By Jan Suszkiw
September 10, 2014
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2014—Four scientists have been named to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Science Hall of Fame for discoveries in soybean genomics, sustainable farming, poultry disease control and crop micronutrients. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Perry B. Cregan, Jerry L. Hatfield, Hyun S. Lillehoj and Ross M. Welch will be honored today in a ceremony at the ARS National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Md. ARS established the Science Hall of Fame in 1986 to honor senior agency researchers for outstanding, lifelong achievements in agricultural science and technology. Nominees must be retired or eligible to retire to receive the award.
"Our four inductees are being recognized today for exemplary research that has had significant impact on the agricultural sector and scientific community through their innovative approaches to problem solving and dedication to mentoring young scientists," said ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young. "They exemplify the values that have made ARS the premier agricultural research organization that it is today."
Cregan, research leader of the ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has been the driving force behind the development of new tools to identify, describe and map soybean, wheat and common bean genes for economically important traits, including resistance to pests and diseases, better tolerance to stresses such as drought, increased yield and improved seed quality traits.
Hatfield, director of the ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa, has conducted numerous field-scale research projects leading to the development of more efficient farming practices and strategies to prevent or mitigate the environmental impact of nutrient, sediment or chemical losses from crop fields through runoff, erosion or other processes.
Lillehoj, a research molecular biologist at the ARS Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has conducted basic and applied research that advanced the understanding of immunological responses in poultry to the enteric pathogens Eimeria and Clostridium, which together cost the U.S. poultry industry $5 billion annually in losses. Lillehoj also has developed alternatives to antibiotic approaches—integrating nutrition, health and disease research—to protect commercial chickens from important avian diseases.
Welch, a retired plant physiologist who worked at the ARS Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit in Ithaca, N.Y., conducted pioneering research on the roles of zinc, iron, nickel and other micronutrients in maintaining plant health and productivity. His discoveries illustrated the importance of using plant breeding and fertilization to bolster micronutrient levels in staple food crops, especially in developing countries where health problems associated with malnutrition is a concern.